When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden the "fruit' of eating the fruit impacted everyone that has lived since that original sin. Why did God tell Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Aren't we supposed to know the difference between good and evil so that we can choose good?
Hard Hearts and the Fruit of the Tree
What do you think the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” represents? What in that fruit ultimately resulted in God removing Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden? What was in that fruit that hurts you right now? How does that fruit help hard-heartedness?
Knowledge of Good and Evil Is Bad?
God did not want Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the tree because it was terrible for them! The fact that it was horrible is easy to see now, not only because God said so, but from the consequences they and we experienced.
But how could knowing good and evil be bad? God tells you to choose blessings, not cursings, righteousness, not unrighteousness.
Romans 6:13 (NKJV) – And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
In that verse, God tells you to choose between good and evil, so how is that bad? That verse is God’s instruction for you NOW because you know good and evil. But that was not true of Adam and Eve when God told Adam about the tree.
Genesis 2:16-17 (NKJV) – And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
All God’s commands are for our protection and invitations to what is BEST for us (2 Peter 1:3-4)! So, what was God protecting Adam and Eve from if they obeyed that command?
How Is Hard-heartedness Linked to the Fruit of the Tree?
Scholars have written volumes about the Tree, but the purpose here is to understand how the fruit of the Tree is tied directly to Hard Hearts!
Here are the thoughts of two scholars.
All that the text requires is that knowledge followed the eating of that fruit…[which] led to an experimental knowledge of the difference. God knew the nature and effects of evil from his omniscience. Adam could know them only from experience…the tree of knowledge gave Adam a knowledge which he had not before; he came to an experimental knowledge of the difference between good and evil. – Hodge, C. (1997). Systematic theology (Vol. 2, p. 126-127). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
But whatever explanation may be given of…the command given by God not to eat of the fruit of the tree simply served the purpose of testing the obedience of man. It was a test of pure obedience since God did not in any way seek to justify or to explain the prohibition. Adam had to show his willingness to submit his will to the will of his God with implicit obedience.
The first sin of man was a typical sin, that is, a sin in which the real essence of sin clearly reveals itself. The essence of that sin lay in the fact that Adam placed himself in opposition to God, that he refused to subject his will to the will of God, to have God determine the course of his life; and that he actively attempted to take the matter out of God’s hand, and to determine the future for himself. – Berkhof, L. (1938). Systematic theology (p. 222). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co.
Self-dependence and Independence from God
Those thoughts imply that the fruit of the Tree blossomed into self-dependence, self-sufficiency, or independence from God. If Adam and Eve had not eaten the fruit, you and I would depend on God to know what is right and wrong rather than trusting our opinion of right or wrong.
Ponder that last sentence. Does that make it easier to see why God’s Word is critical for you? God’s Word is His perfect knowledge telling you what is right and wrong.
BUT, self-dependence and self-sufficiency get you to accept your opinion or understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6), not God’s.
I speculate that self-dependence is the seed
that blossoms into hard-heartedness.
When you depend on your opinion, knowledge, and understanding, you encourage a hard heart to become harder, enabling you to ignore God even more!
A hard heart separates you from God, not because God does not want a relationship with you, but because you no longer want one with Him. You choose to depend on yourself instead of God. That deceives you into thinking you do not need God.
God does not force Himself on you! He will not violate your freedom to choose and allows you to depend on yourself. And He will not step in the way of the consequences you face for disregarding His truth. Hard hearts are the evidence and result of ignoring God’s complete knowledge of what is right and wrong. Proof that you believe you know more than God, at least for this one situation, and would like to eat more of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil!
God Still Cares
This chapter is an essential reminder of how easy it is to stray from God and choose sin over the abundant life God provides. That thought is beautifully stated in the hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Blessing.”
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love,
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
Robert Robinson (1735-1790) wrote the hymn when he was 22 in 1757. Later he wandered away from the Lord.
One day, when he was riding a stagecoach, a young woman entered the coach singing the hymn after having attended a church meeting. Crying, he told her he had penned that hymn years ago as a young believer and would give a thousand worlds to enjoy that feeling again when he first wrote it. The woman replied, “Streams of mercy are still never ceasing,” which is another verse in the hymn.
What an excellent reminder for Robert Robinson and all believers! Despite a hard and wandering heart, the ever-watchful PERFECT Father God welcomes a repentant heart back into fellowship with Him. Do not wait; turn back to Him now!